Big Labor the Number One Special Interest Spent $2 Billion on Elections

To the tune of $2 Billion, Big Labor Bosses used money, primarily from forced-dues union treasuries in their control, to influence the 2017-2018 Elections.

Big Labor’s 2018 Election Cycle by the Numbers

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  • Union Treasury Self-Reported “Political” Disbursements (Source: U.S. Department of Labor) — $1,369,936,480
  • Total Disclosed Federal Union PACs (Source: — $58,217,310
  • Total Disclosed 2017-18 Labor Union State Political Spending (Source: — $478,654,746
  • Total Disclosed Union Federal-Focused 527s (Source: — $43,486,102
  • Total Disclosed Union State-Focused 527s (Source: — $42,146,933
  • Union Treasury Self-Reported “Donations” Disbursements Misclassified* (Source: U.S. Department of Labor) — $14,000,000


The total $2,006,441,571 in union political expenditures is the result of analysis of four major public disclosure resources: U.S. Labor Department enforcement of the LMRDA and its required public disclosures, Federal Election Commission PAC expense reports and Section 527 Committees imported into research tools, and union state level political and lobbying activity data derived from

Union Treasury Funds

Based on required self-reported disclosures to USDOL, union officers admitted to spending $628,307,137 and $741,629,343 on “Political Activities” during the 2017 and 2018 reporting periods. Union officials spent $1.37 billion directly from union treasuries (filled with forced dues and fees) on politics, dwarfing the reported combined political spending of George Soros, the Koch Brothers, and Hollywood during the same period.

Additionally, union reports reveal that union officials misclassified several hundred million dollars more in union officer’s political and lobbying expenses which were misclassified as “Contributions, gifts, and grants” on their union disclosure reports.

To highlight the problem, we easily found (and included in our total) that the National Education Association (NEA) paid $14 million to a 501(c)4 organization, but incorrectly identified it as a non-political lobbying expense on their USDOL financial disclosure report.

Union treasury funds accounted for 68% of the $2 billion total in this report. Labor union officials report on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Union Financial Disclosure Form LM-2 the amount of expenditures each year in categories called “schedules.” Schedule 16 is “POLITICAL ACTIVITIES AND LOBBYING.”

These USDOL disclosure reports are signed by union presidents and union secretary-treasurers. Union officers are subject to criminal penalties for willful failure to file a required report and for false reporting. False reporting includes making any false statement or misrepresentation of a material fact while knowing it to be false, or for knowingly failing to disclose a material fact in a required report.

The self-reported “SCHEDULE 16 – POLITICAL ACTIVITIES AND LOBBYING” disbursement amounts for the filing years 2017 and 2018 were used in this research. It is worth noting that the source of these disbursements includes dues or fees collected from men and women who could be fired for refusing to pay.

Additionally, LM-2 reporting often contains under-reporting of political expenditures which may inappropriately appear on other schedules such as “SCHEDULE 17 – CONTRIBUTIONS, GIFTS, AND GRANTS.” (Only one payee from a Schedule 17 disbursement was included in this NILRR tally of labor political spending. That payee was a 501(c)4 that received $14 million from the National Education Association.)

The following are examples of such likely misclassifications disclosed by union officials on 2018 LM-2 reports recording political activities as non-political SCHEDULE 17 – CONTRIBUTIONS, GIFTS, AND GRANTS.

Below are “Contributions, Gifts, and Grants” entries NOT included in $2 Billion Union Political Spending total, but could have been included in our grand total.

contribution/natl partnership grant
(3/15/2018 ) $ 1,000,000

contribution/natl partnership grant
(9/19/2017) $ 1,000,000

(9/20/2018) $ 500,000

(6/26/2018) $ 500,000

contribution/natl partnership grant
(4/26/2018) $ 333,333

Michigan Senate Democrats
(9/27/2018) $100,000

Michigan House Democrats
(9/27/2018) $ 100,000

Political Support
(8/23/2018) $ 100,000

USDOL instructions for what should be reported in Schedule 16:

SCHEDULE 16 – POLITICAL ACTIVITIES AND LOBBYING: A political disbursement or contribution is one that is intended to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of anyone to a federal, state, or local executive, legislative or judicial public office, or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential or Vice Presidential electors, and support for or opposition to ballot referenda. It does not matter whether the attempt succeeds. Include disbursements for communications with members (or agency fee-paying nonmembers) and their families for registration, get-out-the-vote and voter education campaigns, the expenses of establishing, administering and soliciting contributions to union segregated political funds (or PACs), disbursements to political organizations as defined by the IRS in 26 U.S.C. 527, and other political disbursements. Also report the labor organization’s direct and indirect disbursements to all entities and individuals during the reporting period associated with dealing with the executive and legislative branches of the Federal, state, and local governments and with independent agencies and staffs to advance the passage or defeat of existing or potential laws or the promulgation or any other action with respect to rules or regulations (including litigation expenses). It does not matter whether the lobbying attempt succeeds.

U.S. Department of Labor LM-2 Instructions (2016)

USDOL reports do not require all unions to file reports. In recent years, the fastest reported membership growth has been in unions that exclusively “represent” state and local government employees which are not covered by USDOL disclosure reports. Therefore, the USDOL numbers exclude most of the state and municipal employee unions.

FED PAC as defined by

All 2018 Federal Election Cycle PACs identified as “Labor” by, accessed on or before 4/12/2019.

527 Committees as defined by

All 2018 Election Cycle 527 Committees as identified as “Labor” by, accessed on or before 4/12/2019.

State Political Spending Reports (Public Sector Unions) used state-only political expenses from state and local disclosure reports during 2017 and 2018. Source:

*On balance, the aggregate $2 Billion in political and lobbying expenditures by labor unions in the 2018 election cycle reported here is likely an understatement because National Institute for Labor Relations staff chose to mostly ignore the heavily misclassified $514 million of union reported “Contributions, gifts, and grants” that, after just cursory glance, it was revealed that a majority of the money in this category appeared to be of a political nature as describe in the LM-2 disclosure instructions.

Nothing here is to be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress or any state legislature.